A unified approach to perceiving sound in current experimental music genres

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This paper enquires into the ways in which listeners perceive different pieces of music from a range of current experimental genres. Trained and untrained listeners were given a survey, which asked them to evaluate short musical excerpts ranging from post-spectral and contemporary compositions to glitch and electronic music. All excerpts presented in the survey, it is proposed, belong to a common aesthetic outlook based on considering sound as a particular understanding of material substance that can be seen to hold for various pieces from quite distant genres of experimental music.
This study uses perceptual surveys to reflect on the ability of participants to classify audio samples, express selection criteria, recognize common sonic characteristics, and go beyond existing genre-specific practices. The article addresses the difficulties in conveying our perception of these styles of music and proposes three different modes of listening that are employed in perceiving certain works from genres within experimental music. This research shows how a coherent aesthetic framework favours the creation of new keys of interpretations, provides listeners with new tools of comparison and assessment, and empowers them to focus on the structural and intrinsic aspects of sonic material. This strategy may lead to new convergences within the world of contemporary experimental music.
Original languageEnglish
Article number23
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalFiligrane — Musique, esthétique, sciences, société
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Etudes comparatives (cross-genres studies)
  • Glitch
  • Modes d'écoute
  • Perception du son
  • Musique expérimentale


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